Polarized Photogrammetry Rig for Elinchrom ELB 500 Dual Flash

Our Godox AR400 rig works great for a scan or two, but quickly becomes a pain to work with when sunlight has to be contended with. The flash is simply not bright enough to completely overcome the midday sun, and if you shoot at relatively high power levels (at or above 1/4th), you’ll quickly hit hard-coded temperature limitations after a few hundred (or dozen) shots and need to repeatedly reset the flash to keep shooting.

So, before our trip to Namaqualand, we started looking for alternatives that would enable us to shoot in direct sunlight for extended periods of time – and perhaps provide a better ergonomic experience.

On the 3D Scanning discord, we stumbled upon some images of other artists using the Elinchrom ELB 500 dual flash kit (along with a custom handheld rig) and decided to make our own…

The rig is primarily made from off-the-shelf components such as aluminum extrusions, a camera L-bracket, and a wireless remote. Then, we designed 3D-printed handles, a small spacer, and feet to tie it all together.

Of course, we also needed to polarize the flashes, so a simple 3D-printed pair of rings clamp the polarizing filters against the front of each hood/reflector. The filters themselves, like for the AR400 rig, came from replacement filters for an iPad screen which are just the right size and easy to obtain.

In a nutshell, the rig is simply a way to attach the flashes to the camera and provide a somewhat ergonomic way to hold everything. However, after struggling a bit with the AR400 rig, we also wanted to give ourselves some creature comforts to make it a little more versatile and enjoyable to use, such as:

  • TPU/rubber feet, so it can stand easily on a table/floor without scratching anything.
  • Top handle: to help hold it low to the ground. The handle we have came from a video cage kit, so it also has convenient 1/4″ threads to attach a monopod and hold even more comfortably lower to the ground.
  • A 1/4″ tapped hole on the bottom for attaching to a tripod or monopod for easier maneuverability and height access.
  • A removable wireless remote integrated into the right handle, lined up just where your index finger goes.
  • An overall footprint that fits inside the Elinchrom kit’s bag, protecting those big polarizers during transport.

It’s certainly an upgrade over the AR400 rig, but usability-wise there are still some annoyances:

  • The battery life is not that great when shooting at full power. It’s better than the AR400 but still surprisingly short, given the batteries’ physical size.
  • The separate flash body, which houses the controls, battery, and electronics, is tethered by thick cables to the flashes themselves and is a bit awkward despite its shoulder sling. A small hip-mounted bag might be a nice improvement.
  • The modeling lights (LEDs you can turn on inside the flash heads to help with focusing and polarizer alignment) are not very bright and turn off automatically after only a few seconds – making the initial setup a bit frustrating.
  • The aux connector on the body, which connects to the camera to trigger the flash, is unreliable and poorly positioned to be damaged easily—hence the looseness and unreliability now.

If anyone has some ideas or suggestions for improvements, please comment below 🙂

If you’d like to build one yourself, the .blend file is available for download at the top of this post. Parts and assembly should be fairly self-explanatory from the object names, though we worked with what we had on hand and could find locally.

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